This is Whyte House Report podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Christianity Today, Two members of a missionary group kidnapped in Haiti a month ago have finally been freed, leaving 15 Christians still in captivity. “The two hostages who were released are safe, in good spirits, and being cared for,” stated Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) on its website. The Ohio-based group said it “cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, where they are from, or their current location.” “We encourage you to continue to pray for the full resolution of this situation,” stated CAM. “While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the 15 people who are still being held. Continue to lift up the remaining hostages before the Lord.”
According to Mission Network News, It’s an exciting time to follow Christ in southeastern Africa. “I want your listeners [and readers] to know that the Lord is working,” Helen Williams of World Missionary Press (WMP) says. “GOD IS MOVING, AND THERE’S MORE WORK TO BE DONE.” Last month, Williams met with dozens of pastors and Christian leaders at a conference in Zambia. “There were directors from South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, the whole area,” she says. World Missionary Press partners with Every Home for Christ to supply local leaders in Africa with Scripture booklets and other tools for ministry. Williams says that these believers “couldn’t say enough” about how much the material and WMP’s partnership meant to them. “Several [leaders] said, ‘We couldn’t do what we do without it, particularly during this pandemic.’”
According to Mission Network News, Is East Africa the next “hotspot” of persecution? Voice of the Martyrs Canada spokesman Greg Musselman says the latest uptick in Uganda is starting to look like persecution in Nigeria. “There are similar patterns that we’re seeing now happening in Uganda on a frequent basis,” he explains. Parallels between Uganda and Nigeria are concerning. “In the first 200 days of this year, around 3,500 Christians had already been killed (in Nigeria), which was as many as was killed last year,” Musselman says. “When you’re looking at violence against Christians, Nigeria always pops to the top of the list.” VOM Canada partners with churches around the world to support persecuted believers and advocate on their behalf. This year, the ministry received “more stories (reports of persecution) from Uganda than we’ve seen in previous years,” Musselman says. “Some of the reports I’ve seen this year from Uganda [involve] churches that have been very effective – seeing people come to Jesus, going into areas that may be a little more hostile, and sharing the [Gospel]. When that happens, these evangelists and pastors are then targeted.” So, what’s causing the trend, and why Uganda? “Uganda happens to be the country now that is being targeted, but it’s certainly not the only one,” Musselman says. “The radicalization of militant Islam is growing throughout Africa.”
According to Mission Network News, Ugandan police have killed five men, including a Muslim cleric. All of them allegedly had ties to the twin bombings in the country’s capital Kampala on Tuesday. The bombings killed at least four civilians and injured several others. The cleric was killed in a confrontation when police tried to search his home. Police ambushed the four others in a small frontier town near the border with Congo. Police are searching for a second cleric, who has been accused of radicalizing young people towards religious violence. The explosions rocked the AMG International headquarters in Kampala as well, says Brian Dennett. “We spoke yesterday with our national leader there. And they felt it, they heard it. It was quite a chaotic scene, with many trying to flee the city and just a lot of fear generated from the blasts.” People have avoided traveling downtown, or even gathering together to worship. They worry suicide bombers could strike again at any moment. One partner called the situation a “bomb pandemic.” Dennett says, “The Allied Democratic Force, the ADF, which is an affiliate of ISIS, has accepted responsibility for that. There is a fear that this is going to continue.” Pray for the safety of Ugandans. Ask God to turn hearts away from violence and towards the love of Jesus.
According to Assist News Service, National missionaries — those working in their own countries — are the “new pioneers” of the 21st century, and they’re proving to be an “unstoppable compassion force,” a new report reveals. “More and more, local missionaries are driving ministry projects in their own countries and transforming their own communities,” said K.P. Yohannan (Metropolitan Yohan), founder of global mission organization GFA World. According to GFA World’s new report, National Workers: Unstoppable Compassion Force, there’s a natural progression toward “indigenous” workers who understand their own culture, language, and neighbors far better than foreign missionaries. National workers also serve in their own countries at far less expense — and with fewer restrictions — than expat Western workers who often incur costs associated with emergency medical insurance, security, and immigration, as well as safety restrictions on movement, says GFA World. “National workers live at the same level as the local people,” Yohannan said, “working alongside them, living among them in the villages and slums, dressing the same, speaking the same language, eating the same food, drinking from the same well.” Today, 80% of the world’s countries are either completely closed or severely restricted to foreigners doing any form of religious work — Afghanistan being one example. “Then again,” Yohannan said, “no matter what closed doors, restrictions or financial costs might be, God still calls his people to evangelize, to go, and send missionaries to preach the gospel and fulfill the Great Commission.”
According to Mission Network News, How to reflect Jesus during the holidays/ Prayer is the perfect way to approach any issue. Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries suggests using Paul’s request in Colossians 4:3 and 4: “‘Pray for us that God may open a door for us, that we may declare the mystery of Christ and declare it clearly as we should,’” he quotes. Next, release your control over the situation. “Sometimes we get so tense about family gatherings and family conversations, and we begin to take it into our own hands,” Hutchcraft says. Let God determine the outcome instead of trying to achieve your objectives, and remember His priorities. “My real mission, my real assignment, is not to win an argument but to win a heart for Jesus Christ,” Hutchcraft notes. “Only one issue is going to decide their eternity. And that’s your Jesus.” Finally, “relax in the sovereignty of God over everything you’ve just released to Him,” Hutchcraft says. “If you can release the entire conversation and the relationship to His leadership, I think you’re in a much better place.”
According to Mission Network News, The U.S. Department of State did not designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) with regards to religious freedom in its 2021 report. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has expressed disappointment with this move, along with the omission of India, Syria, and Vietnam. The State Department did, however, add Russia and Nigeria to the list. Other countries designated include Myanmar, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. CPC’s gain the designation by engaging in or tolerating, “systemic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.” Armed groups responsible for much of the violence against Christians in Nigeria were named as “Entities of particular concern.” These include Boko Haram and ISIS. Greg Kelley with World Mission says groups of Fulani bandit groups have attacked Christians as well. “They’re getting in on the act because they are also all motivated by Islamic fundamentalism and their common enemy or target is Christians.” Kelley says just two weeks ago, a group of bandits attacked a church service and kidnapped everyone in the building. “It’s terrifying for Christians, people serving Jesus. They’re going into church services not knowing [if they could be attacked]. All these things are primarily happening in northern Nigeria, which is 90% Muslim. The southern part is majority Christian. In the northern part, Christians are being hunted down.”
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless you.